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Being a lady painter in Tuscany

Five days in - how's the painting?

by Bernadette Fallon

No - they didn't lie, my (lack of) art skills have been incorporated very well into the week of painting. There are 12 of us on the course at the Watermill in Posara, and all are fairly experienced artists - take regular classes and occasional painting holidays. Not everybody is at the same level - but nobody is as ropely as me!


I'm loving it though. Having a great tutor helps - Mike never stops sketching and painting, even in his 'time off', is fantastically encouraging to us all and has created special 'masterclass' sessions for me (painting along beside him), which a few of the experienced painters have also attended and found really useful (see his website at www.devonartcourses.co.uk). On Tuesday morning we were all painting at the foot of a castle, much to the interest of passing locals and visitors. 'I wonder what's the Italian for 'beginner',' said my painting companion worriedly. 'I dont' think we'll need it once they see my effort,' I pointed out.


We've been painting outside every day, making use of the gorgeous landscapes all around Posara, Fivizzano and Verrucola, an area little disburbed by the hordes of tourists you find in other parts of Tuscany. Yesterday was a day trip to the beautiful old Italian city of Lucca, and rather than haul paints there I took a sketchbook and drew piazzas and rooftops while sipping cappuccino in the sunshine.


I'm amazed that in a few short days I've turned into somebody who packs a sketchbook in her handbag. And I'm excited today about our trip to Pognana and getting back to watercolouring again. Tomorrow, our last day, we have an exhibition of our work and I'm so excited I will hardly be able to sleep tonight. My first exhibition! What on earth am I going to wear?


PS The answer to the 'can you paint watercolours using makeup brushes?' question is 'yes if you have to, but they will work much better with acrylics or oils'!


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